NYCS Swag Spotlight: Rob Baird

Memphis, Tennessee native who now resides in Austin, Texas, Rob Baird recalls growing up being surrounded by music. Memphis, although not as famous for music as Nashville, has shaped the landscape of the blues, rock n roll, and Motown genre.  Baird in a recent phone conversation chats about his new record and his switch from a cattle rancher to a singer-songwriter . Growing up he tells us his very first concert was ZZ Top when he was in the third grade but that he was inspired by Al Green and the music that made Memphis famous. “If you grew up in Memphis, you just drive by Sun Records 3000 times in your lifetime,” he tells us. “I feel like Memphis doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves for being such a great music town”.

He started playing music in college and when people started showing up to his shows, he knew that maybe the switch from ranch manager to musician was the best decision to make. After releasing his first two records in Nashville, he made the move to Austin. “I’m obsessed with where I live, I just love it,” Baird tells us of the city. Although all of the writing for his fourth studio record took place at his kitchen table in Texas, he traveled to Nashville to record After All with longtime friend Rick Brantley as the producer under the direction of Jeremy Ferguson (Cage the Elephant and Lucie Silvas).

He called the shots on this record, writing all ten tracks and allowing only people who he felt knew him and his mission, to work with him to achieve it. “For this project, we just needed someone that we really trusted, that knew me well, and cared about the project, we wanted dear friends who understood what we want to do,” Baird explains. The tracks are autobiographical, telling the story of heartbreak, loss, and healing. Featuring Lucie Silvas’ smokey voice on background vocals on “Burning Blue”, it is one of the highlights on After All.

Looking ahead to 2019, Baird is promoting the new record playing shows not only in Texas but across the south. Check out our review from his intimate showcase in Fort Worth, Texas here.

Follow Rob Baird on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and head to his website for all of his tour dates.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Jenna Paulette

Jenna Paulette

“I was always wanting to be apart of the national scene”

Growing up on a family ranch outside of the Dallas, Texas area, Jenna Paulette was heavily influenced by many country musical artists, notably George Strait and the Dixie Chicks. “I think I fell in love with, especially George Strait, the way that he takes songs that just make you feel something and the pedal steel in most of his stuff is just so hauntingly beautiful and communicates emotion I think better than words do sometimes and I was just romanced by that whole idea,” she told us in a recent interview. “I related to George because he kinda represents all of my favorite men in my life like my grandfather is a cowboy and taught me everything I know about cattle and I just really respect who he is as a person and what he represents as a man and so I think I just took all of that and was like ‘If I can make people feel the way George Strait makes me feel then I’ll be doing a good job,’ that’s a major goal for me.” “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Wide Open Spaces” by Dixie Chicks were among songs that made Paulette feel those things, while she was experiencing life on a ranch.

Singing in choir herself, her mother recognized the talent and passion Paulette had for country music at a very young age and always encouraged her dreams. Paulette was apart of four choirs in high school, including an all-state team group a regional group. Everything she experienced from life on the ranch made her recognize she always wanted to pursue country music as a career. Paulette started writing music in college and became more interested in the people who were writing her favorite songs rather than the artists who were singing them, “I would read the back of Carrie Underwoods’ records and be like ‘Oh my gosh, who are writing these songs that are making me cry’ and one of them was Ashley Gorley.” After college, Paulette visited Nashville when she was introduced to Gorley by the wife of the pastor of Gorley’s church. Shortly after meeting the hit-making songwriter, Paulette sent Gorley the first songs she had ever written which grew into him seeing the potential in her and coached her into commercial country songwriting. Continuing to be her mentor for the next couple of years, Paulette was traveling back and forth from Texas to Nashville, visiting Nashville once a month for a week at a time writing as many songs as she could with Gorley. He then sat her down, telling her “If you want to play this game, you have to be present to win.” Paulette then made the move to Nashville at the beginning of 2016.

Meeting with labels, she would describe her style of music as a cowgirl vibe which resulted in being pitched with songs that would be “too western” or “so pop it wasn’t country at all,” that’s when she knew she would have to show everyone what she meant. “One day I was on this road trip and the words ‘New West’ came into mind because I was like I’m a cowgirl but I’m so not like old school cowgirl, I’m a new version of whatever that means and all of the feelings that come along with it that you love about me, the west and the ideas of the west and new west popped into my brain and that just kind of became my goal and I started writing towards that and everything started making sense.” Paulette describes ‘New West’ as commercial country music with western ideas and undertones and a slight bit of pop underneath. She then moved on to release three songs with corresponding music videos on CMT last fall that made those people in Nashville begin to understand her sound. “I am really thankful that it didn’t happen before now because I don’t think I knew who I was in a way that I could make a whole career out of it and I think everything happens for a reason and I’m extremely thankful for all the voices that coached me along the way,” she tells us.

Paulette is a member of Song Suffragettes, an all-female songwriting collective in Nashville. It wasn’t until joining the prominent group that she noticed the lack of women being played on country radio. The Texas-native feels a sense of obligation for the future of female airplay, “It put responsibility on me like, okay, well what’s my part in all of this and how do I break down the barrier myself and do such a good job that they want to play what I’m putting out… Let’s be so good they can’t ignore it.”

Her current single, “F-150,” co-written with Mark Trussell, was the “it” song for her. On her way to the writing session with Trussell, Paulette pulled into three different parking lots to stop and note the melody of the chorus and idea for the hook that popped into her head immediately. It took Trussell and Paulette two writing sessions to complete the song’s lyrics. She tells us she feels the spacing of the hook makes the whole thing make sense, “Baby drive me… crazy, like you drive your F-150”

“F-150 is apart of her lane as where she wants to continue to grow as an artist and the type of song that she is passionate about and can sing over and over again and enjoy herself every single time. This is the type of song she feels equipped with to play in arenas one day.

Gaining some experience by opening for Zac Brown Band, she loves to watch artists who are exactly where she wants to be in the future, taking notes from the people who inspire her. Paulette is gearing up to release an EP this year, along with two more visually artistic music videos for new songs. Keep up with the new western artist on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: The Swon Brothers

The Swon Brothers

Photo Credit Amy Richmond

Back in September of 2017, New York Country Swag hosted a sold-out event at Bungalow Bar in Queens featuring The Swon Brothers.  Fast forward to 2019, we are catching up with the duo and finding out a little bit about their backstory and what is next for them in the new year. Zach and Colton Swan tell us in a recent interview that they were born into a musicians life, their parents singing in a southern gospel band and traveling around on their bus to different churches.  Muskogee, Oklahoma is where they call home, but they quickly knew that Nashville was an important place for them to travel to and eventually move to to make their dreams come true.  Zach started playing drums for the family band when he was just seven years old and then when Colton came along, they started playing together and writing songs. “We wanted to be a kid version of Brooks & Dunn and we started making our parents take us to Nashville. We never really had a backup plan, it’s been our goal since we were little,” Zach tells us.

Colton recalls spending time in Nashville, sitting in the hotel room with his family, eating bologna sandwiches and then heading out to all of the different writer’s rounds, any place that would allow kids to play. “We did that for years then we actually went to Music Row and knocked on every door, asking if we could sing for these major labels,” he explains.  Zach and Colton were only twelve and nine years old at the time, already persistent in reaching their goals.  Although almost every record label turned them down, the secretary at what was Virgin Records at the time allowed them to sing for her, and the president of the label just happened to walk by and heard the boys singing. Colton recalls him saying “‘You guys keep up the hard work, you’ve always got an open door’ and we’ve always kept in touch with him. That was the first moment, validation that we might be able to do this. “

On a whim, just days after traveling back from Nashville, the duo took a chance and drove back to Memphis to try out for the singing competition show, The Voice.  Usher, Shakira and Blake Shelton all turned their chairs during their blind audition, eventually choosing Blake as their coach.  They finished third in the season, becoming the first duo to make it to the Top 12. After finishing The Voice, they made the move to Nashville.  “Being in Nashville gives you opportunities that you wouldn’t have the chance to write with anywhere else,” they say of Music City. “The biggest advantage of making the move is meeting kindred spirits. it’s great to be in a town that surrounds you with people that make you better.”

In October of last year, The Swon Brothers released “Midnight Lovers”, a song that Zach and Colton Swon wrote with Stephen Hunley and Brandon Day.  The track tells the story of forbidden love, reminiscent of a modern-day, Romeo and Juliet, love story. “We are kind of throwing rules out the window and just having fun, musically and lyrically, we are writing for ourselves which we’ve never done,” Zach says of the new music they are excited to release.

Just last week the duo announced The 17:17 Tour with a photo on Instagram of their matching “17:17” tattoos saying “…A brother is born for a time of adversity…” The 17:17 Tour is about us being brothers. Doing what we love for who we love. Y’all keep showing up and we get to know you better every time we step on stage. Thanks for a being a FamBase, not just a Fanbase. See you on the road.” Full lineup and ticket information for The Swon Brothers’ 2019 tour is available at www.swonbrothers.com

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Walker Montgomery

Our Swag Spotlight this week, Walker Montgomery was born and raised in Nicholasville, Kentucky a small town that had produced not one but two major country artists in the past who just happened to be Walker’s uncle Eddie and father, John Michael. Eddie Montgomery, of Montgomery Gentry and John Michael Montgomery who had his own solo career for years in the business. “I always say that I am blessed to be under the umbrella of the Montgomery family if I ever need advice, I have the perfect outlet but the kind of music I release, the things that I do, people will see that he’s not just John Michael’s son or Eddie’s nephew,” he says.

His parents allowed him to have a well-rounded childhood, acting playing sports but of course playing music as well. He was playing the guitar and basic chords when he was only five years old, instilling the love of music at an early age. When discussing his musical influences he tells us; “Obviously, my family was in the country music business so I grew up listening to country music but I also listened to Big Band, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman which was far from country but I loved all kinds of music and having music in the house really made me who I am today”.

During high school, he decided to take music a little more seriously and took the stage at the country fair and played for 1,000 people.  He recalls stepping onto that stage for the first time, he was only a sophomore in high school but decided from that day on that he loved the energy from the crowd, “There was no other feeling like it,” Montgomery tells us.  It was soon after that when he knew he wanted to write his own music.

His debut single “Simple Town” was written as an anthem for his small town, a local radio station programmer heard it and started playing it in Kentucky and now it has over two million streams on Spotify.  Living in Nashville, Montgomery is now taking his small-town roots to the big city, stating that along with his father and uncle, Randy Travis and Luke Bryan are amongst some of his biggest influences. His love for traditional country music and appreciation for the way modern country incorporates new sounds, he wants to infuse them together. “When I write, I’m just writing what I feel, I just need to write what is on my heart that day,” he explains. “I want songs to be relatable, I always say if you can tap into the heart of somebody in country music, they are going to like the song.”

Looking forward to the new year, Montgomery is excited to play more shows and make more connections with his fans. Towards the end of the last year, they released a video for “Just Say When” the next single he will be pushing from his Simple Town EP.  Fans can look forward to new music in the new year. Follow Walker Montgomery on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to keep up with new announcements.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Tyler Hilton

Tyler Hilton

Photo Credit: Chase O’Black

 “I am living in a random dream come true”

Palm Springs, California native Tyler Hilton took some time to chat with our Managing Editor in a recent phone interview about his whirlwind career. If the name sounds familiar, you may remember Hilton starring in a little television show called One Tree Hill as bad-boy recording artist Chris Keller. With his new album City On Fire being released this Friday, he told us about his backstory, growing up being surrounded by music and his almost accidental big movie break.

While he was young, his uncles were all musicians, touring with Fleetwood Mac and George Harrison, so needless to say, music was in his blood and surrounded his childhood. His family would play bluegrass, blues, and California country, influencing his musical talents. “If girls, weren’t obsessed with musicians, who knows if I would have pursued music in my teenage years, I remember I also got into juggling but I don’t juggle anymore,” Hilton laughs. “How lucky that something I loved is so celebrated in our culture.”

When he was just fifteen years old he made the decision to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter and was discovered by a local radio station out in L.A. From there, at just 19 years old after going in to audition to play guitar as a background character, he was cast as Elvis Presley in the Oscar-winning movie Walk The Line. All the while he continued to pursue his music career, which led him to his next project.  He auditioned for a small guest part on One Tree Hill and the rest from there is history. “Before I filmed it, I binge-watched the whole first season and I loved the show,” he tells us. “Imagine watching season 1 in one weekend and then meeting everyone on Monday”. Chris Keller became a character that fans of the show absolutely loved to hate so Hilton was continually written into the show on and off for almost a decade. “I got to hang out with the coolest people ever, we all went through the show becoming huge together and really bonded,” he says of the cast which became like family.

Fast forward, Hilton is gearing up to release a project he says is his favorite record he has ever recorded. City On Fire will be available this Friday (January 18th) and features thirteen tracks that encompass a new blend of genres. When discussing the vibe of the album, Hilton explains he likes to call it “western indie-rock” explaining he is the Venn diagram between Johnny Cash and The Strokes. He wrote the songs during a time of change in his life, his grandfather passed away, a friend passed away, and when California was experiencing terrible wildfires. During our conversation, he explains that the most recent breakout of fires were wreaking havoc through his home state and he could look out the window and see ashes falling from the sky.

City On Fire also features Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, who Hilton lived with when he first moved to Nashville in 2007. In the same house, Kelley and Hilton lived with Dave Haywood and Jason “Slim” Gambill, who have all had major success with Lady Antebellum. “They were great songwriters, nobody knew who they were, we had a blast drinking, grilling and writing songs together. I thought they were amazing,” he tells us. “They told me about finding a girl on MySpace, talking about Hilary, and they just sounded so good”.  The newly formed band even opened for Hilton once in Nashville and he recalls every record label coming to his show to see them. “After that, they just took off, it’s been so cool watching my old roommates kill it”.

Next up, Hilton is hitting the road to promote City On Fire and will be playing at City Winery in New York City on March 2nd, tickets available here. Pre-order or pre-save City On Fire here and check back on Friday for our First Impression. Be sure to follow Tyler Hilton on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for all upcoming announcements.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Brandon Ratcliff

Brandon Ratcliff

Our very first Swag Spotlight of 2019 is also one of our Artists to Watch this year, Brandon Ratcliff. As a young man, grew up surrounded by the music industry as the son of Suzanne Cox of the legendary band, The Cox Family. His hometown, Cotton Valley, Louisiana proved to be the perfect small town to grow up.  “One of the big cornerstones of my childhood was my mom teaching me to be a true fan of great music in the car rides on the way to school, her being the DJ, she showed me and my younger brother so much great music everything from Merle Haggard to Ricky Skaggs, Stevie Wonder, Hall and Oates and Fleetwood Mac, I had a love for music, art, and songwriting from a young age,” he tells us in a recent interview. Although his very first dream was to be a professional basketball player, after discovering artists and songwriters like John Mayer and Eric Church struck a chord for him and he decided to pursue songwriting himself.

In 2014 he moved to Nashville and focused on honing his songwriting craft. “I was really focused on writing songs and because that was to me, my favorite part about it, I was a song person, I always wanted to write great music,” Ratcliff explains. He tells us that he found his tribe of songwriters and after meeting Pete Good and AJ Babcock it just clicked. “Once you meet your team, it really is the most empowering feeling when you are doing what you love with that group of guys.”

Back in October, Ratcliff released his debut single “Rules of Breaking Up” which already has garnered over a million streams on Spotify.  When discussing the writing process he tells us it was born out of a conversation with A.J Babcock, busbee, and Pete Good.  “We all know the rules when you break up but the lyrics were specifically about the one relationship that makes you want to break all of those rules,” he says. An interesting anecdote is Ratcliff doesn’t think of the song as a breakup song but instead, one for someone you deeply care about. “It was a little bit of a love song, it was born out of a place of almost writing what it would be like to lose someone that important, it was more of an introspective,” he explains. “You love someone so much, if I broke up with you, I wouldn’t be able to follow those rules.”  The beauty of songwriting and something that he loves about the process is the way that people can interpret songs differently.

To close out 2018, Ratcliff announced that he would be opening on the Miss Me More Tour with Brett Young and Kelsea Ballerini. The two artists will bring their diverse fan base to the nationwide tour and the rising artist is so humbled and excited to get to play his music for them. Looking forward into the new year besides the tour, he is can’t wait to release the music he has been writing and recording for the past two years. For tour dates and more info head to https://www.brandonratcliff.com/ and be sure to be following Brandon Ratcliff on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight Featuring Sundance Head

Sundance Head

Photo Credit: Tara Bone Photography

You may recall our next Swag Spotlight, Sundance Head as the winner of season 11 of The Voice back in 2016. Growing up in Porter, Texas about twenty miles north of Houston, his father was in the music business so he grew up around musicians, never really knowing that people had other jobs other than playing music. “It was more of like a lifestyle, I wrote songs because everyone I knew wrote songs, played guitar because everyone around me playing guitar,” Head says. In order to pay the bills, he took a job in construction which allowed him the freedom to work outside, listening to the radio all while keeping his musical dreams on the back burner.   When his girlfriend at the time suggested he try out for American Idol. Making it to the top 13, he learned a lot about the television competition process during that time. “I didn’t know myself as an artist and I wasn’t a great vocalist at the time. I didn’t realize that you needed to have a strategy,” Head explains.

After working an office job for five years after American Idol, he got sick of sitting at a desk and decided to try his hand once again in the music industry. He started up a band and they played every bar and venue they could in Texas, cutting their teeth and honing their craft.  When that same girlfriend who now was his wife suggested that he try out for another television competition, he was skeptical. “I said that’s the last thing I want to do is do that, it’s taken us four-five years to prove ourselves to Texas Radio, if we go do that and it doesn’t work out, I can’t come back to Texas,” he explains. “They look at that like you are selling out, they don’t always understand that you are just trying to do what it takes to pay your bills.” He does think that that mentality is changing, however, with the help of artists like Cody Johnson and Aaron Watson. “We’ve cultivated this great sound down here, why should we just keep it here”.

Taking one more chance, with more experience under his belt he tried out for The Voice, making it on to Team Blake and eventually going all the way to win the season. Since then, he has been on tour, performing over 280 dates last year alone, especially opening for Blake Shelton for his arena tour. When discussing what he learned from touring with Shelton he explains that the main takeaway is, always be yourself, be true to who you are and people will respect you for that. “Blake is so good at singing to 80 thousand people but he makes each individual there think that he is performing the show for them personally,” he says.

He then comments about rising superstar Luke Combs and how his genuine nature and incredible songs are making waves in the genre and how that will affect the path he takes to the industry. “He is singing great songs about real stuff and he is a real dude…This is a dude that’s lived it, people can feel that. That’s super exciting for me too, other than me being in incredible shape and very tall and handsome, we have a lot in common,” he laughs.

Looking ahead, Head has worked with and befriended legendary songwriter Dean Dillon (“The Chair”, “Tennesee Whiskey”) to pick the right songs and produce his album that has become highly anticipated since winning The Voice. Some of the greatest songwriters in Nashville has contributed songs to the record, slated for release very soon he tells us. Lori McKenna (“Girl Crush”, “Humble and Kind”) and JT Harding (“Sangria”, “Somewhere With You”) collaborated on the debut single from the record, “Leave Her Wild”. He comments about the song and how he knew it was the right single for him explaining, “I fell in love with it, it has that sexy kind of rock n roll backbeat on the kick drum but then it’s got these hip lyrics, it talks about this amazing woman, I can visualize her being smoking hot, free, goes around being happy and being sweet to everyone, lives as hard as she loves. I know who that girl is, that’s my wife.”

Anticipating his album, Stained Glass and Neon to be released in early 2019, Head can’t wait to release his own brand of soulful country to the world. For all news and updates be sure to follow Sundance Head on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Ana Cristina Cash

Ana Cristina Cash

Born and raised in Miami, our Swag Spotlight this week, Ana Cristina Cash grew up listening to music in English and Spanish which shaped her artistry from a very young age.  Her parents moved to Florida from Cuba in the 1960s and were avid music lovers.  She tells New York Country Swag in a recent interview that her first concert was Gloria Estefan and she loved watching her perform live.

Her influences throughout her childhood included Barbara Streisand, The Carpenters, and even Madonna.  She recalls her sisters having friends over and watching them make up dances to Michael Jackson songs, all the while curating a love for all kinds of music being instilled in her.  “As I started growing into my own, I was heavily influenced by Jazz singers and country music singers,” Cash explains.  “Etta James, Patsy Cline, Leann Rimes, Faith Hill, and Shania Twain,  their voices and their stories were huge influences on me.”

Cash was fluent in Spanish and English as a child and now she always goes back to her roots when making decisions about her musical career. As a child, she performed on the longest running variety show, “Sábado Gigante”, which she explains was like The Mickey Mouse Club but in Spanish.  That experience gave her the chance to work with professionals in the business very early on. “I began singing demos of popular songs and dabbled in writing when I was 13, 14, 15 years old. My demos were brought to an A&R person at Sony Music Latin who’s offices were in Miami and they offered me a job as an artist,” Cash tells us. She learned as a teenager the ins and outs of the industry, setting her up for a long career as a bilingual singer.

She met her husband John Carter Cash, the son of June Carter and Johnny Cash in a hotel in LA, they quickly became friends and it took John nine months to ask her out on a date. “We were drawn to each other and our mutual interests. We are a lot alike even though we come from two totally different worlds, me being from Miami and him being a Tennessee boy, we are so much alike, you would think we were cut from the same cloth,” she lovingly says. She admits that growing up in Miami without the ability to stream music on the internet, she had never really heard any of his father’s classic hits but now has a great appreciation for not only the way his father shaped country music but his mother as well. “It is great to be a part of a musical family, to have the inspiration. Now, I have nieces and nephews that sing and play instruments,” she tells us. John is a product of both parents being in the music industry, now their child, a 13-month-old baby girl is a product of both parents being in the music industry as well. “She’s very musical, I was 9 months pregnant and still performing.”

She prides herself on creating a country fusion sound mixed with blues and most recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of recording a Christmas album. “I always admired classic traditional Christmas songs and it is something I thought about doing for a long long time and I’m so blessed to be able to have done it,” Cash says.  She worked with her husband over the course of several years, recording My Christmas Collection at the Cash Cabin Studios.  The album features her versions of the classic holiday songs including “O Holy Night”, “Santa Baby” and of course “The Christmas Song”.  She and her husband perform a duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as well as an original song that they penned together, “Santa Claus is Real”. “I love Christmas songs, I listen the entire year, not just during the season. I love the warmth that those songs inspire and how they make you feel and remind you of family and a joyful time in your life, I wanted something that sparked that joy,” she says of the album. She even sings one verse of “Silent Night” in Spanish, speaking to her bilingual fans and resonating with her culture.  The entire project has a very old-timey sound, channeling the greats of the past who have put their mark on the Christmas season by recording the classic holiday hits. Take a listen to My Christmas Collection below.

Looking ahead to the new year, she plans on releasing a full-length album of original songs which was produced by her husband John.  For all upcoming announcements and news follow Ana Cristina on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight Featuring Karen Waldrup

“Work hard, don’t stop, persevere and believe, because if you want something in life it’s not always so easy but every single moment that it took to get you to that point is justified.”

Karen Waldrup, this week’s Swag Spotlight spoke with New York Country Swag recently about her journey in the music business and how she is utilizing technology to reach her fans in new and innovative ways.  Growing up in Lousiana, Waldrup recalls her sister sending away for country music CDs and they were always being played in her house.  The Dixie Chicks, Trisha Yearwood, and Dolly Parton are just some of the influences that attracted her to the genre from a very young age.  “I just thought it would be fun to write and create music, it was more about writing but once I started playing out for people I started to get addicted to the feeling of fans connecting to their own story to my music,” she explains.  She started to write songs and learned to play guitar when she was still in high school but it was when she was in college at The University of Southern Mississippi that she started playing gigs and truly pursuing the career.

Moving to Nashville after college she got a job as a salesperson to pay the bills all while continuing to write and play around town. “This town has been such a beautiful gift, it is kind and the community is really nice,” she explains.  Although she’s been in Music City for ten years now, she will never forget her southern Lousiana roots. She integrates a certain amount of soul and blues into the country genre, all the way being proud of who she is and proud that her home state accepts people for the good, bad, and the ugly.

As an independent artist, Waldrup decided to launch an Indiegogo campaign to fund her debut full-length album back in 2016. She recalls a particular moment during a live stream where a woman requested she sing the inspirational “I Hope You Dance” for her daughter’s birthday.  The video almost instantly went viral, racking up over 29 million views and the cover was also appropriately the last song on the record.  Check out the cover song below.

After going viral, the Indiegogo campaign was 100% funded and Waldrup was able to start recording the album she moved to Nashville to create.  Cowriting 9 of the 11 tracks on her debut full-length album Justified, the sing-songwriter says it took a lot of time to decide on the songs that would compile a well thought out, themed record. She wanted to prove that every step along the way was justified to getting her to where she can now release an independent album of her own. “All of these people have justified that I can do this, every bar I’ve played, every private event, I have played in Tulsa, Oklahoma to two people and one was the bartender, I have paid my dues,” she tells us.

Utilizing technology and the power of social media, Waldrup has now built a family of fans across Facebook and Instagram totaling over 500 thousand people. They don’t only use social media to communicate with the artist and her team but also with each other, creating a welcoming space for people who love her music.  She has a series where every Wednesday she posts a new video for her followers, allowing them to see into the life of the singer-songwriter.  Another innovative way the artist is connecting with her fans is through Binge Networks, a network through smart TVs. All of her Waldrup Wednesday videos are now available through the Binge Network app, for more information head to bingenetworks.tv. 

Social media has proved that you can interact with your fans in ways never thought possible before. Waldrup explained that someone said something to her recently and it really clicked how important the internet fanbase can be, “You created a career for yourself that may not have happened otherwise,” she says. “Back in the day if you didn’t have a fancy record deal, go back home.”  Her latest single “Sometimes He Does” was written by Lori McKenna (“Girl Crush”, “Humble and Kind”) was just included in Rolling Stones “10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week” and the video premiered on CMT.com.  “It melts my heart every time I hear it, I heard it 6 years ago and I ended up being able to record it and it ended up on my record by the grace of God,” she says of the single.

As for what’s next, she looks forward to the new year, touring and heading over to the Virgin Islands and Jamaica as well as Europe, promoting her album and meeting more fans.  Keep up with Karen Waldrup on social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight Featuring Risa Binder

Risa Binder

 

Columbia, Maryland native, Risa Binder currently splits her time between Nashville and New York, finding inspiration wherever she goes. She grew up writing songs about boys that she had crushes on in high school and singing into old corn husks like they were her microphone with her sister, knowing from an early age where her passion lies.  She tells New York Country Swag in a recent interview that her family was always listening to all different types of music but she found a love for musical theatre before becoming obsessed with country music. “I loved Reba McEntire and Martina McBride because these women told stories, and theatre songs and country songs are very similar, they tell a great story and the truth through song,” she tells us.

She decided to travel to Nashville and attended a songwriter night at The Bluebird Cafe that changed her life.  She heard one of the writers of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” sing his song and that is when she knew that she wanted to write hit songs for a living. “I went to New York City and I would waitress to save money and would go down to Nashville and the city sort of became my grad school,” Binder recalls.  “I would find the country venues in New York and play there and then I would go out to Nashville and play there.”

Eventually, her record label Warehouse Records decided it was time for her to make the move to Nashville but before she made the big move she prayed to God for a sign that it was the right thing for her. After spending a flight down to Nashville sitting next to songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman (“This Kiss”) and learning all about her story she got the sign she was looking for. “We had a wonderful conversation and at the end of the flight, she asked if we could help her grab her guitar case.  Jordan, my husband gets it, she swings it over her shoulder and her guitar case says “Faith” in big letters.”

Two months later, Chapman invited Binder to be her guest at The Bluebird Cafe, fulfilling a dream she had when she first started in this business. “Things like that keep happening, when you are following that passion, magic stuff starts showing up,” she says.  She had the opportunity to open for Ronnie Milsap on the night he was being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and then continued to be his opening act for the better part of two years.  On touring with Milsap she explains: “I fell in love with how much of a family the road could be. My band is my family. We love each other, we are all trying to make this dream happen.”

Her single “You Came Along” was written by Locash, Phil Barton and Lindsey Rimes and she completely fell in love with the song immediately, telling us originally she thought it was about the love she had for her husband.  After recording the song she found out she was pregnant with her daughter and her perspective on the song changed.  “We filmed that music video 3 weeks after I gave birth and she’s in it at the very end.” Check out the video for the beautiful song above.

As she continues to write and record music, she tells us that she is a huge fan of dream boards and putting your future plans into the universe. “What you put out there if you focus on it and you are working towards it and you have a photo of it that you look at every day, it actually comes true,” she says.  We found out that currently on her dream board in her apartments in Nashville and New York are pictures of big festivals and the Grand Ole Opry. She explains she would love to play Stagecoach one day as well as play at the Grand Ole Opry. “It may take 5 years or 7 years, but if you keep writing and performing you hope one day you’ll be able to step into that circle.  You have to listen to your own heartbeat and why it’s beating and follow that.”

Looking to the future she will continue to release singles and tour in 2019.  Be sure to follow Risa Binder on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for all upcoming announcements and new music.

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